Who is Scottish football’s next big thing? Who could be the next James McFadden or Andy Robertson? Here at Youth Football Scotland we’re casting our eye over the main SPFL teams to find just who’s on the cusp of breaking out, as the kick off to the 2017-18 league season edges ever closer.
Here we look at two prospects from Hamilton Academical who have shown the early potential to kick on and make the season 2017-18 their year.
Hamilton Accies are a side who have used their youth system to great effect in recent history. Success stories like James McCarthy and James MacArthur have moved on to the English Premier League after being given the platform to prove themselves at a young age in South Lanarkshire. In the current team, captain Michael Devlin and playmaker Ali Crawford are a further example of youth products who have made the grade at professional level.
Steven Boyd has grabbed his chance early on this season after some flashes of brilliance in the BetFred Cup. The 20-year-old came off the bench against Queen of the South on Saturday 22 July with 15 minutes remaining in the match poised at 0-0. With two minutes remaining, the youngster from Paisley scored his first professional goal for Hamilton and it looked as if Accies were claiming all three points before Queens equalised a minute later. Boyd converted his penalty in the shoot out that followed to help earn a bonus point for his side as they won 6-5. Having only amassed four starts for Accies so far, this could be the season where he announces himself on the big stage.
Boyd is equally as comfortable playing as an attacking midfielder or as the second striker. He spent the first half of last season on loan to Albion Rovers where he racked up five goals in 15 appearances including a brace against Airdrieonians in a 2-1 victory in the Monklands derby. Boyd was formerly on the books at Celtic and has picked up Scotland caps at Under 17 and Under 16 level.
Scott McMann played the full 90 minutes in Hamilton's last game against Queen of the South in the BetFred cup as well as starting their opening group game against East Kilbride. This proves he is held in high regard by Martin Canning and – although the 21-year-old spent three months on loan at Clyde last year – he is expected to be in the manager's plans at SuperSeal Stadium this season. The defender will look to add to the 29 starts he has already made at Accies since his breakthrough in 2012.
McMann's preferred position is at left back where he is renowned for venturing forward to assist the attack but not at the expense of his defensive duties. He has been known to deputise at centre half and may be asked to fill the void while captain Michael Devlin continues his recovery from a cruciate ligament injury in the early stages of the season.
Both youth prodigies will hope to make season 2017-18 one to remember for all the right reasons as Hamilton Academical bid to avoid the relegation battle and remain in the Scottish Premiership for a record fifth season in a row.